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The spatial extent of tephra deposition and environmental impacts from the 1912 Novarupta eruption

Payne, RJ and Symeonakis, E (2012) The spatial extent of tephra deposition and environmental impacts from the 1912 Novarupta eruption. Bulletin of Volcanology, 74 (10). pp. 2449-2458. ISSN 0258-8900


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The eruption of Novarupta within the Katmai Volcanic Cluster, south-west Alaska, in June 1912 was the most voluminous eruption of the twentieth century but the distal distribution of tephra deposition is inadequately quantified. We present new syntheses of published tephrostratigraphic studies and a large quantity of previously un-investigated historical records. For the first time, we apply a geostatistical technique, indicator kriging, to integrate and interpolate such data. Our results show evidence for tephra deposition across much of Alaska, Yukon, the northern Pacific, western British Columbia and northwestern Washington. The most distal tephra deposition was observed around 2,500 km downwind from the volcano. Associated with tephra deposition are many accounts of acid deposition and consequent impacts on vegetation and human health. Kriging offers several advantages as a means to integrate and present such data. Future eruptions of a scale similar to the 1912 event have the potential to cause widespread disruption. Historical records of tephra deposition extend far beyond the limit of deposition constrained by tephrostratigraphic records. The distal portion of tephra fallout deposits is rarely adequately mapped by tephrostratigraphy alone; contemporaneous reports of fallout can provide important constraints on the extent of impacts following large explosive eruptions.

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